Ward Melville got its groove back on Saturday. And then some.
The Patriots might have been flat a week earlier in their matchup of unbeatens with Floyd, but they rebounded with a big character victory on the road at Longwood. Ward Melville got its first sampling of a high-pressure close game in the late going and made the critical plays when it was on the line for a 30-20 Suffolk I victory.
“We handled that loss the right way and came back from it hungry to win,” Ward Melville quarterback Trey Berry said. “Winning a game like this one — a dogfight fought in the trenches — is going to be good for us later on. We saw that we can persevere when we lose a lead and I think that will serve us in the playoffs.”
The Patriots (6-1) found the Lions (4-3) to be every bit their physical match through most of the first three quarters. With the score tied at 20 late in that quarter, Nick Troy took the ball on every play of a six-snap, 65-yard drive and hit paydirt on a one-yard run to put Ward Melville up 27-20.
It was a phenomenal day for the slippery and elusive senior running back. He rushed 32 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns and also returned a punt 68 yards for a TD.
Longwood was anything but beaten and had plenty of fight left down seven. Quarterback Noah Rattmer, who’d already run for a pair of touchdowns, moved the Lions down the field methodically and into the red zone. That’s when JJ Laap stepped in and made a big interception with 6:13 left in the game.
“Laap is just a killer athlete with next level speed and incredible instincts,” Troy said.
From there, Troy helped the Patriots wring almost all the time off the clock, running the ball on 11 of the next 12 snaps and setting up Tommy Dellaporta’s game-sealing 30-yard field goal with 1:24 to play and all of Longwood’s timeouts used up.
“At the end of a game like that, there’s nothing I like more than having the ball in my hands,” Troy said. “I like it when we’re keeping the tempo right where we want it and need to to be and I like to wear the other team down late.”
“Nick is shifty and can lower his shoulder,” Patriots coach Chris Boltrek said. “It’s good to have someone like him on your team. It’s high school football and sometimes you need to lean on a workhorse. We always get his all.”
Berry completed 12 of 16 passes for 154 yards. Laap had five catches for 67 yards and his interception was the seventh of his season to go with his seven touchdown receptions.
“We have a running back and we feed it to him all game,” Boltrek said. “JJ is the most underrated player on Long Island. No one makes more of the touches he gets.”
Rattmer rushed 17 times for 87 yards and the two scores and also was 11-for-19 passing for 117 yards for Longwood. Kyle Rausch had 80 yards rushing and scored on a 55-yard run and Elijah Stokley had five tackles for either no gain or a loss of yardage for the Lions.
“This was a good bounce back win for us,” Laap said. “I think we learned some things about ourselves this week. We learned that we keep rolling even when we hit adversity and we learned that we have a lot of heart.”